Serbia was unexpectedly wonderful. Very scenic, and very friendly. The EV6 is signposted, and, if you look hard, there are occasional small informal campsites or rooms. The countryside is gorgeous, often steep and wooded, with houses dotted about; yet the steepness is avoided, mostly, on EV6. The roads, if a bit patched, are generally ok, and very quiet, the drivers usually considerate and not hurried. There’s more people about in the country and villages and towns than anywhere so far, the place looks active and lived in. There’s a lot of traditional-looking agriculture – tended flocks of sheep/goats or herds of cows; charcoal burning, small plots obviously family sized.
Luxury is now defined as being able to have a warm shower. The last two campsites have had all the facilities we wanted except for the vital one. Earlier on in our trip we’ve had a couple of occasions when that criteria was not met. Once there was a lukewarm shower, I just about handled it. On the second occasion it was full blown cold. I’d winced & whinged while Gid came out laughing that he’d gone in fully clothed; it cut down on his laundry time , he said. We’ve just had two nights with only cold water. Grim!
This was written (but not uploaded) after just arriving in Vidin, Bulgaria. Having crossed the border quite late we were keen to find a place to stay – almost the first peer down a backstreet found a small, comfortable, and cheap hotel. But this was a fleeting visit as we dashed across the border into Romania. Romania is very different. Horses and carts are everywhere. We’ve only seen a few tractors on the roads and there aren’t that many in fields.
The fields have been a mixture. As we left Calafat, strips were very evident but as we’ve moved further out into the countryside there has been some large scale farming.
Horses and carts are still rumbling past us at 8.30 pm as we sit here having supper.
Gid has commented on how villages have characteristics. In some villages horses are tethered along the road side on the grass verges, in another village it’s wild fowl along the verge with a range from chickens & ducks to guinea fowl & turkeys. Some are free range, some shepherded & others in makeshift enclosures. Two or three villages have had wells at regular intervals. Again two or three have had shiny, blue water pumps. One village had a tap with two bright red cups hanging next to it on a tree. Stray dogs have not been a problem here & the people are very friendly. In fact, our arms are worn-out from returning their greetings. Young children are most enthusiastic, running out to do high 5s.
Generally, this bit of Romania seems to be wealthier than the part of Serbia we went through; homes are in a better state of repair, there are very few derelict buildings and there is nothing like the amount of rubbish littering the roads. In a couple of villages, similarly to Ireland perhaps, there are a number of large new homes, started in the property boom and now left unfinished with the crash.
In this dash through Romania I feel we’ve really had an insight into the people going about their daily lives. I stopped to take a photo of some cattle on a beach alongside the River Olt, some were in the water wallowing. A little further on I had stopped again to absorb the view, from behind, two herdsmen drove a mixed herd across the main road down to the waters edge. Whilst standing there taking it all in, their was a bleat. One kid had been left behind. Barely 5 mins later they were off again.
The Garmin did what it is famous for and took us on a short cut. We headed off down a minor road. I could see on the GPS that it became a track but hadn’t expected it to be quite so rutted or steep. My front wheel was frequently air born with my efforts to cycle up it. The view, however, really was stunning! We looked out over a lake and floodplain, herdsmen with their herds, all heading in different directions, everywhere. It was an absolutely stunning site. This was followed by a route down the back streets that appeared to be one communal farm yard. Again, people & animals everywhere.
We’ve travelled further east than we had originally planned. Now, when looking at the larger scale maps, we have wimped out of going over the mountain ranges; by coming further east we hope to have missed most of them, as we now head south.